Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pay Per Sale


Online advertising payment model in which payment is based solely based on qualifying sales.


In a pay per sale agreement, the advertiser only pays for sales generated by the destination site based on an agreed upon commission rate.

Paying per sale is often seen as the payment model most favorable to advertisers and least favorable to publishers. In such an agreement, the publisher must not only be concerned with the quality and quantity of his or her audience, but also the quality of the advertiser's creative units and destination site.

If possible, many publishers avoid sales-based agreements, preferring to stick to the CPM model. However, some publishers, facing weak ad sales, have little choice but to accept sales-based agreements to utilize remnant space.

For advertisers, pay per sale has some unique advantages compared to pay per click and pay per lead. There are fewer concerns about whether conversions are legitimate, and whether traffic is incentivized or of low quality.

Monday, February 27, 2006

“Hanging Out” Online

One third of US Internet users "hang out" online

2/16/2006 1:02:30 PM

By Nate Anderson

Did you go online yesterday just for fun? If so, you're in good company. A new survey (PDF) out from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that nearly one-third of all Internet users in the US regularly go online just to "pass the time."

While the Internet is still most often used with a purpose in mind, it is gradually becoming a primary recreation destination as well.

"Users have already folded purposeful Web activities into their everyday lives—communicating, gathering information or looking for answers.

Now, they have added Web surfing — going online without any particular purpose to that list. Many people have described the internet in terms of different purposeful places: a library, or a shopping mall, or post office.

Now we can add 'destination resort'—a place to go just to have fun or pass the time—to that list."

You might assume that things have always been this way, but in reality the numbers have spiked substantially in the last year alone. In November 2004, only 25 million people claimed to go online on any particular day just for fun. By the time the most recent survey was done in December 2005, that number had jumped to nearly 40 million people—and that's just in the US.

The survey also found, to no one's surprise, that young men make up the largest group of people who use the Internet simply for recreation. When broken down by gender, 34 percent of males and 26 percent of females passed time on the Web on any given day.

While the numbers are growing substantially for both genders, men are outpacing women and saw an increase of 10 percentage points in the last year. When broken down by age, the results also conform to expectations: younger Internet users more often surf without reason than their elders do, but it is worth noting that 20 percent of all American adults over the age of 65 use the Internet for fun on any given day.

The study attributes the growth in recreational Net use to two factors, the rise in broadband connections and the increase in Web content. It's not just broadband users who find themselves at homestarrunner.com, however; 63 percent of all dial-up users in the country surf for fun, too (so, while they may be wasting time, they're certainly learning patience).

The upshot of all this is that the Internet is in the midst of an evolution into a major recreational destination for Americans and a source for digital content that once was available only in the racks of your local electronics store.

Is this news another bit of evidence that we are Bowling Alone, or is the Internet providing new and different forms of community interaction?

Like most things in life, it depends on how you use it (it is interesting to note that books are never charged with destroying community, though they generally require solitude, quiet, and staring at a flat surface for long periods of time). Those who spend their online hours obsessively browsing for porn aren't doing themselves any favors, but it is unfair to suggest that online interaction is not capable of creating community in any way.

Still, if computer time is coming at the expense of face-to-face interaction with other people, it is certainly capable of causing problems. Will people remain as interested in working for the good of their physical community, for instance, when the "community" with which they most identify is only found in cyberspace?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Foreclosures: Bargain hunters beware!

You might think that a slowing real estate market would make foreclosure investing a snap.

Don't bet on it.

By Cybele Weisser
MONEY Magazine staff writer

February 16, 2006: 12:08 PM EST
NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Buying foreclosures once appealed mainly to the small group of hard-core real estate investors who were willing to dig into untouchable rehab projects and wrestle with deadbeat tenants.

But in recent years, scores of self-help books, Web sites, gurus and classes have sprung up, touting the notion that buying property from distressed homeowners is not only the surest path to real estate wealth but also within easy reach of anyone with spare time and gumption.

Now, with rising interest rates and softening prices threatening to derail homeowners who stretched to buy with risky loans, the message from this movement goes, this is the year for foreclosure bargains. Or is it?

Foreclosure investing has always been fraught with risks -- decrepit money pits, troubled tenants who refuse to clear out. But rather than creating more buys, the torrid market of the past five years has added a whole new level of risk by leaving fewer genuine deals available for thousands of eager new investors.

"It's a tough market today. The low-hanging fruit has already been picked," says Gary Eldred, author of "The Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing." "There are some nuggets of gold lying around, but you have to dig through a whole lot of dirt and rock to get to the good stuff."

Armed with the time and the temperament, you can make money buying and selling foreclosures. But now more than ever, it's important to steer clear of the common misconceptions and learn from seasoned investors who've done it right.

Myth no. 1: A big spike in foreclosures is right around the corner.

If you've been waiting for the McMansions in your town to start going on the auction block, your wait isn't over just yet. Many homeowners who took short-term adjustable-rate loans or home-equity lines of credit a few years ago are already grappling with higher monthly payments, and more will be doing so next year.

Despite that, the foreclosure rate -- currently less than 1 percent of all loans -- isn't expected to change much in 2006, says Alexis McGee, president of listings Web site Foreclosures.com.

That's because in most of the country, anyone who has owned a home for even a year or two is likely sitting on enough equity to sell or refinance if the loan payments become unaffordable.

Another brake on foreclosures is that banks are no longer playing hardball with strapped homeowners.

"Compared with the late '80s and early '90s, lenders use velvet gloves," says Eldred. "They've realized that giving people a six-month moratorium on payments, stretching out the term on the loan, reducing the rate -- it's still more profitable for them than going through a foreclosure."

Finally, the foreclosure process can be lengthy, ranging from a month to more than a year, depending on state law.

What would push more homeowners over the brink? Hard economic times have always been a catalyst, says Doug Duncan, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association. For example, in states that have recently lost industrial jobs, such as Ohio and Michigan, foreclosures rose significantly in 2005. So if the national economy sours this year, expect a big jump in foreclosures in 2007.

Another catalyst is overbuilding. Regions that have enjoyed a boom in new condominium development -- South Florida, for example -- could soon suffer a spike in foreclosures if investors are unable to rent or unload their condos for a profit.

Myth no. 2: Foreclosed houses sell for far less than their market value.

In a study of foreclosure sale prices in more than 600 counties nationwide in 2005, Christopher Cagan of data provider First American Real Estate Solutions found that, on average, foreclosed properties sold for about 15 percent less than comparable homes in the area that were not distressed. But in states where real estate prices have risen the most, including Arizona, California and Virginia, foreclosed properties sold for within 5 percent of full market value.

"In general, you're not going to get a great discount in a great location, right where your job is, a place that you really want to buy," says Cagan.

Bear in mind that his study looked only at homes that went into foreclosure, not those in danger of being seized, where you can often find better deals. But Cagan's numbers also don't take into account the inevitable costs of repairing the property, which are often far higher than expected.

"At first blush a deal can look really good," says Dartmouth business school professor John H. Vogel, "but by the time you figure out why it's selling at such a discount, you often realize the price was very rational."

Myth no. 3: Anyone can make money in foreclosures.

If you've read one of the many books touting the benefits of foreclosure investing, or attended one of the increasingly popular seminars, you've likely come away thinking that it's a snap.

Wrong. There are three ways to buy foreclosures: directly from a homeowner in trouble (pre-foreclosure), from a bank that has repossessed the home (real estate owned, or REO) or at public auction.

Each involves a different set of rules and regulations -- and challenges. Whichever method you choose, the chance you take right now is that you will overpay for the property. Few foreclosures are on the market, while the number of interested buyers has grown faster than Brangelina's brood.

"Five years ago, there were the same five or seven people at every auction," says veteran foreclosure investor Roy Cloughen of Long Island, N.Y. "Now there are 75 to 80."

Most experts say there's little point in looking at REOs today; lenders aren't repossessing many properties, and the few REOs that come up for sale usually command full market price.

Auctions are by far the riskiest way to invest, says Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing at foreclosure listing site RealtyTrac.com. "You are buying the property sight unseen, and you will be responsible for any taxes, liens or second mortgages still on the property."

If someone is still living in the home, you must handle the eviction. Moreover, auctions tend to be frequented by the most experienced investors, who know plenty of tricks to confuse the novice bidder.

"I'll do a big jump in price and then a little jump, just to increase their confusion," says Cloughen, who has watched plenty of inexperienced auction buyers end up paying more for a home than it was actually worth.

If you want to try your hand at an auction, it's essential that you research state laws beforehand and come armed knowing what similar properties in the neighborhood are selling for. And don't forget the money. Most auctions require you to make a 10 or 20 percent cash deposit on the spot, with the balance sometimes due within a day. Finally, decide what price you're willing to pay and stick to it.

"You just can't get emotional and caught up in the bidding," says Jon Kaplan, who owns a contracting business in Cleveland and dabbles in foreclosure investing. "Overpay, you'll get killed."

If you're willing to knock on doors and ask embarrassing questions, you may find deals among pre-foreclosures. For a $15- to-$50 monthly subscription, you can get listings from Web sites that search court filings and other public documents for homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. You can then contact the homeowner and try to negotiate a deal.

Trouble is, the listings on many of the Web sites are out of date -- and a lot of people are reading the same lists. That's why Pamela Smith, a part-time flight attendant and real estate investor, taps a network of realtor contacts she's developed and checks listings of borrowers in default in her county paper for leads. Notes Smith, "You have to be aggressive."

Auctions are by far the riskiest way to invest in foreclosures. The public sales tend to be frequented by the most experienced investors, who know plenty of tricks to confuse the novice bidder.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Changing Visions

Charter School Announces Partnership

- seeks more students, new location

Record Staff Writer

Sunday, February 19, 2006

CLAREMONT -- Craig Willis stands firmly behind the charter school philosophy: Offer smaller class sizes. Give students more individualized attention and instruction. They will succeed.

Willis is director of Visions Charter School in Claremont, Catawba County’s only charter school. The K-6 school is free and open to the public. Parents choose Visions because of the one-on-one attention the staff offers to students on all achievement levels, Willis said. “We try to meet the needs of every child, whether they’re gifted, average or challenged,” he said. “In lots of schools, they just try to meet the needs of the middle-level students.”

Enrollment numbers have dropped drastically in the past several years, though, he said. Currently, the school instructs 59 students. Willis hopes the number will increase, and soon. The school needs six students by the end of the school year or Visions will have to shut its doors. In December, the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Committee informed Willis the school’s charter could not be renewed since it does not have 65 students, a requirement for all state charter schools.

Willis hopes a partnership with Imagine Schools will help the school attract more students and provide more opportunities for them. An operating agreement was signed Tuesday. Imagine Schools is a nonprofit, national organization that runs charter schools across the country. Kestrel Heights School in Durham is the only other charter school in the state managed by the company.

The partnership will change the way the school looks and is managed, Willis said. “We hope to attract new people, improve test scores and possibly move our location,” Willis said. “We need to reinvent ourselves.

Willis said the school is looking for property in the Hickory area, where he believes more students can be served.

lwilliamson@hickoryrecord.com | 322-4510 x5408 or 304-6915


Director: Craig Willis
Grades: K-6
Number of students: 59

In the 2004-05 school year, Visions did not make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The school met one out of three AYP targets. The school was designated a priority school, since only 50 to 60 percent of its students were at grade level.


For more information about:
Visions Charter School - Call 459-2051 or go to www.visionscharterschool.org.
Imagine Schools - Call (703) 527-2600 or go to www.imagineschools.com.

This story can be found at: http://www.hickoryrecord.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=HDR/MGArticle/HDR_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1137834198669&path=!news!localnews&path=!news!localnews

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spark Plug Innovation

The Key Factors Pushing Innovation in Spark and Glow Plugs Include Longer Service Intervals, Emissions Legislation and Engine Design

Monday February 20, 2006 - 11:00 am ET

DUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 20, 2006--Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c33066) has announced the addition of A Global Market Review Of Spark Plugs And Glow Plugs - Forecasts To 2010 - 2nd Edition to their offering.

In this second edition review of vehicle spark plugs, we extend the analysis in chapter two by forecasting market volume of OE glow plugs as well as spark plugs. The key factors pushing innovation in spark and glow plugs include longer service intervals, emissions legislation and engine design. Chapter three sets out some recent innovations. Chapter four provides brief profiles of the major spark and glow plug manufacturers, namely AC Delco, Autolite, Beru, Bosch, Champion, Denso and NGK Spark Plug.

Extract from the report - Chapter 1 Introduction

The spark plug is a key engine system component, playing a major role in fuel economy, efficient combustion and the reliable operation of engines and catalytic converters. Although the useful life of a spark plug has been extended, its basic function has not significantly changed since the early 1900s. What has changed, however, are the requirements for emissions and service life.

In 1902, Bosch was awarded the patent for the first spark plug. Designed to be combined with a high-tension magneto ignition system, the spark plug solved what Carl Benz had described as the most fundamental obstacle to early motoring. Together with improvements in production technology, the spark plug laid the foundations for the rapid increase in vehicle production over the decades that followed.

Early version spark plugs, used in low-speed, low-compression gasoline engines had a life of just 600 miles compared with copper alloy multi-ground electrode plugs lasting about 20,000 miles. In the mid-1980s, Bosch introduced the first platinum-tipped spark plug designed to help maintain a constant electrode gap thereby extending the plugs life by a multiple of three to four times.

Today, spark plug manufacturers talk of precious metal plugs lasting between 55,000 and 80,000 miles. Platinum can withstand temperatures of up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit and so less metal is lost during firing. It is also more resistant to corrosion and pitting than traditional copper and nickel-alloy electrodes.

Manufacturers Mentioned:
• AC Delco
• Autolite
• Beru
• Bosch
• Champion
• Denso
• NGK Spark Plug

List of tables

List of figures

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c33066

Research and Markets
Laura Wood
Fax: +353 1 4100 980

Source: Research and Markets Ltd.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Study Finds How the Brain Interprets the Intent of Others

Study Finds How the Brain Interprets the Intent of Others

Two Dartmouth researchers
have learned more about
how the human brain interprets
the actions and intentions of others.

Scott Grafton, professor of psychological and brain sciences, and Antonia Hamilton, a post-doctoral fellow, have learned that the brain's parietal cortex handles how we understand the goals of other people's actions.

Their study was published on January 25 by The Journal of Neuroscience.

"We were able to find the part of the brain involved in interpreting the goal of another person, even if no words are spoken," says Hamilton. "When you see another person reach for an object that they want, like a cookie, a bit of brain called the anterior intraparietal sulcus, which is found in the parietal lobe, is strongly activated."

She explains that their result is surprising because many would have predicted that the frontal cortex, normally associated with language and understanding, would be activated in this situation, not the parietal cortex, usually thought to be involved with space and movement. Also, Hamilton says that with this study, they have shown it's possible to localize abstract things, like goals, in the brain.

"So, as we learn more about how the brain responds to seeing other people do things, we can start to understand the neural basis of human social interactions. This may help us understand what goes wrong in impaired social interactions, like in children with autism, who sometimes fail to interpret actions correctly."

The study involved twenty participants who watched a series of short movies, shown in a random order, while their brain activity was measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The movies depicted a hand reaching, grasping, and taking one of two objects. For example, a hand takes a cookie or takes a computer disk. The participants then answered yes or no questions that elicited their understanding of the goals involved of the actions represented in movies.

Source: Dartmouth College

Key Signaling Molecule In The Brain That Appears To Trigger The Brain To "learn" A Craving

17 Feb 2006

Researchers have identified a key signaling molecule in the brain that appears to trigger the brain to "learn" a craving for cocaine. Their finding could offer an important target for drugs to treat addiction by short-circuiting that adaptive process.

In an article in the February 16, 2006, issue of Neuron, Antonello Bonci and colleagues established that a short protein, or peptide, called orexin A acts on a brain region central to the adaptation to addictive drugs. Specifically, they found in their studies with rats that orexin A induces an adaptation that is necessary for the development of behaviors associated with drug-craving in human addicts. The latest findings follow an earlier discovery by the same group that another molecule, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), acts similarly.

Such adaptations are believed to create a need that is far more compelling than the simple memory of drug-induced pleasure and represent a "rewiring" of the brain into an addictive state.

In a preview article on the paper in the same issue of Neuron, NIH neuroscientist Roy Wise commented that "Inasmuch as arousal or stress can trigger drug-seeking in drug-free animals, the neuroadaptations discovered by the Bonci group are important not only for how rewarding the drug is after an animal starts taking it, but, perhaps more importantly, for how likely the animal is to initiate drug-seeking during periods of abstinence.

"Because it is during periods of abstinence, not periods of intoxication, that addicts seek treatment, the peptide signaling pathways for orexin and CRF may prove to be fruitful targets in the search for addiction medications."

Bonci and his colleagues based their experiments on past studies by other researchers showing that orexins are important regulatory peptides released by a brain center called the lateral hypothalamus. It was also known that orexins tend to activate circuitry in a region called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), known to be a critical site of neural adaptation, or plasticity, induced by addictive drugs. However, it wasn't known whether orexin actually induced such plasticity.

In experiments with rat brain slices, the researchers demonstrated that orexin A does increase activity of neurons in the VTA associated with such plasticity.

And in experiments with whole animals, the researchers found that orexin A was required for "behavioral sensitization" to cocaine. This sensitization shows itself as a long-lasting increase in activity by the animals when they receive the drug and is an indicator that the animals are experiencing an increased craving for the drug.

Importantly, when the researchers "microinjected" directly into the VTA region of animals a drug that blocks orexin receptors, they found they could block the development of behavioral sensitization.

"The findings presented here establish a potential mechanism for the role of orexin signaling in plasticity related to addiction," concluded the researchers. The researchers wrote that this orexin-induced plasticity in the VTA "is likely an important substrate of behaviors relevant to addiction, as we show that activation of [orexin] receptors in the VTA is necessary for the development of cocaine-mediated behavioral sensitization. Thus, orexin receptors may provide novel pharmacotherapeutic targets for motivational disorders such as addiction.


The researchers include Stephanie L. Borgland, Sharif A. Taha, Federica Sarti, Howard L. Fields, and Antonello Bonci1 of the University of California, San Francisco in San Francisco, CA. This work was supported by a NARSAD Essel Foundation young investigator grant to S.L.B., the State of California for medical research on alcohol and substance abuse through the University of California, San Francisco (A.B. and H.L.F.), The Wheeler Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction (A.B. and H.L.F.), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institutes of Health 1RO1DA15096-01 (A.B.).

Borgland et al.: "Orexin A in the VTA is critical for the induction of synaptic plasticity and behavioral sensitization to cocaine." Publishing in Neuron 49, 589-601, February 16, 2006. DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.01.016 http://www.neuron.org/

Contact: Heidi Hardman
Cell Press


Search With the Human Touch

By Susan Kuchinskas
February 16, 2006

A new crop of search engines bases relevance on the human mind instead of algorithms. On Thursday, PreFound.com said it would begin to share ad revenue with active users of its site.

PreFound is a community-oriented search engine that lets people search, tag and share their searches with others; it launched in January 2006. Members can create their own personal pages containing organized groups of links sorted by topic and sub-topic.

Experts known as "Featured Finders" who take the time to gather the most relevant and recent information on specific topics will receive 100 percent of the Google (Quote, Chart) AdSense revenue that their individual pages generate.

Featured Finders will be responsible for finding, tagging, and sharing organized sets of links and annotations on their expert topic areas that they have found on the Web. Searchers will be able to visit each expert's page and view the Featured Finder's PreFound selections. "Our plan is to reward experts in their fields along with regular users who've proven they can share useful and popular material," said Steve Mansfield, CEO of PreFound.com and its parent company, iLOR, in a statement.

According to Mansfield, paying people will help ramp up the site's content, while reducing the visibility of spammy or slopping pages. Experts interested in participating in the PreFound.com Featured Finders program can apply at www.profound.com. Other sites too are looking for the human touch in improving search results.

Dumbfind, a two-year-old search provider, also plans to offer an online community where users can submit and tag content to help determine search relevancy and discover new sites. Dumbfind combines tag search with keyword search to better refine results. Dumbfind automatically tags all the content in its database, groups them, determines which are most relevant, and displays them in clusters. Founder Chris Seline said the concepts of tagging and "folksonomies," wherein users create their own categories, are a good jumping off point. "We have a large seed database of tags," he said, "but it could benefit from user input. There may be certain ways people might describe things that our technology might not capture." Improving results could also improve ad revenue. PreFound's Mansfield pointed out that users of his site's topic-specific pages are more easily targeted by advertisers.

Eurekster recently launched Swicki, a search/wiki combo that lets Web publishers and bloggers offer topic-centric searches designed to give their communities of users more relevant results. Publishers can focus and train their Swickis by typing in keywords and relevant URLS.

Then, Swicki technology automatically learns from search behavior on the publisher's site, constantly refining search results in response to what site users clicked on. For example, a traditional Web search for the word "labor" might return results focused on childbirth, labor legislation and unions. On a site catering to pregnant women, searchers consistently clicking on links related to childbirth would eventually increase the relevance ranking of such links, so that only they would be shown to users.

In a statement, Eurekster CEO Steven Marder said, "Currently, publishers lose traffic to generic search engines because they don't offer their users a Web search with a differentiated or specialized value-add that retains them. Unique search results not only help build user loyalty, but also lead to greater search-driven advertising revenue, he said.

The idea of human editors is as old as Web search itself, of course. The original Yahoo was a simple, human-edited list of links to sites. About.com, founded in 1996 as The Mining Co., paid subject-expert Guides to create channels. About.com was sold to the New York Times Company (Quote, Chart) in February 2005.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

iVillage Rebranding Women.com as Women’s Search Engine

iVillage Rebranding Women.com as Women’s Search Engine

iVillage will be relaunching its Women.com domain as Women.com, “Search for Women”, taking vertical search to the sexes.

iVillage purchased Women.com for $47 million in 2001 and ran the site as an iVillage news spinoff of dating, beauty and romantic content until they decided to dump the site altogether and then just redirect the domain to iVillage.com.

paidContent picked up the info in the iVillage conference call transcript:

“We anticipate launching the new Search at the end of the second quarter 2006.

Our objective with Search for Women is to enhance and further customize our users and advertisers experience by participating in the so-called vertical search marketplace…this new product will allow us to promote iVillage brand by blanketing the Internet with add campaign promoting Search for the Women’s Intuition.”

Greg Sterling, Vertical Search Ninja, feels that iVillage may be taking the Vertical market place a bit far:
Let’s assume that this isn’t simply a marketing ploy and that the new Women.com is going to try to provide a better Web-search experience for women in general – a daunting task given how broad a category “women” is. And calling “search for women” vertical search almost renders the term “vertical search” meaningless. (I make the same argument when people say Local is a vertical.)

Yet women are arguably the most important constituency online. They are driving e-commerce and online shopping and they’re the ones writing the reviews on JudysBook and InsiderPages and engaging in the “social networking” activities, much more so than men.

So trying to grab the attention – and some of the wallet – of this group is wise. But what will Women.com provide (assuming again that it’s Web search for women) that Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Ask or InfoSpace/DogPile cannot?

Greg goes on to note that iVillage may be working indeed with Eurekster, the social search sharing engine and that such a partnership targeted towards the vibrant female online community may indeed be a success.
— Loren Baker, Editor

Ask.com Dumping Jeeves . . .

New Focus on Search Technology & User Experience

Jeeves is ‘retiring’ from Ask.com in fashion as the IAC owned search company has taken a major step in rebranding its image. Ask.com will be taking a more integrated IAC technology and Web 2.0 route with their rebranding, and the loss of Jeeves may bring the arrival of Bloglines and other IAC owned services into the Ask.com search experience. Even as they give Jeeves the boot, Ask is showcasing the arsenal of search services they have added over the past two years including Desktop, Personal, Image, and Ask Smart Answers.

Saturday on the Ask Jeeves Blog, Jim Lazone gives a couple of paragraphs of heart felt goodbye to the symbol of the search company which helped differentiate its technology from Altavista, Infospace, Inktomi and Excite in the 90’s:
As many of you have heard by now, in the near future we’ll be saying goodbye to our corporate icon of 10 years… It’s funny, when you consider that he’s just a static drawing of a butler-ish figure on a website (and that he was very nearly a “wise owl” or a “wizard” rather than a butler), how much the Jeeves character has come to mean for people over the years.
Then Jim jumps right into the new Ask.com and its marketing message of usability, services, and relevant search as opposed to a cartoon character :
As we’ve said many times, and many of you have kindly said for us, the search engine today is leaps and bounds better than the old one. Not only are we solid on the basics, but we’ve also been one of the leading innovators in search. Beyond our differentiated algorithmic search, we have the most differentiated SERPs of the major engines, with Zoom related search, Binoculars, MyJeeves, and Smart Answers all integrated significantly into our pages. Heck, now we even have the fewest ads above the fold of the major engines. Per Keynote, this paid off with the most significant gains in search quality and brand perception between 2004 and 2005 among the major search engines. Per comScore, we’ve also had the largest percentage gains in market share year on year.
When it comes to our product, we’re continuously evolving and improving. Our brand deserves a clean break to open people up to seeing how good we are.
So, we’re going to take the leap and strike out for a fresh identity, one that fits more with who we’ve become than who we used to be. One that revolves more around the site, and what it does for our users, rather than around a character.
One thing that won’t change with our new brand will be our focus on making search better for real people, from heavy searchers to new searchers. Our best innovations have been inspired by this approach to usability. How do people really search and what tools do they really need to be more effective?
— Loren Baker, Editor

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Better Hydration Needed for Diabetics

A recent hydration study performed on diabetic patients in 5 different hospitals in China shows diabetics’ intracellular hydration increased by 13.4 times and improved their basal metabolism rate with Clustered Water® when compared to distilled water.

Diabetics were selected for this hydration research study because two of the most classic symptoms at diagnosis are increased thirst and urination. In China, diabetes is known as the Thirst Disease: It is a fairly common disorder in Asian countries, affecting one in ten to one in fifteen adults. The Chinese Health Care Science and Technology Society (CHCSTS) conducted the study.

Proper hydration is critical for people with diabetes because water has to be organized around insulin – for every one insulin molecule, you need 440 water molecules,” states Dr. Zhi Y. Wang. “ We are excited with the results of this study because it proves that cell water turnover is critical to health, especially in diabetics.”

Research team Chairman Dr. Zhi Y.Wang recently presented the Clustered Water® hydration findings to the International Congress of Clinical Nutrition in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. In addition, this study was recently published in the National Library of Medicine.

Zunami™ and Vivo™ are products made with clustered water technology that was invented and patented by Dr. Lee Lorenzen.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s clinical practice recommendations, there are several considerations that are particularly important and specific for individuals with diabetes. During exercise proper hydration is essential, as dehydration can affect blood glucose levels and heart function adversely. Exercise in heat requires special attention to maintaining hydration. Adequate hydration prior to exercise is recommended (e.g., 17 ounces of fluid consumed 2 hours before exercise).

Zunami™ and Vivo™ are produced through extensive purification and their patented Microcluster Template Induction Process (2 USA patents), in which water molecules are broken down into small, stable clusters. Independent laboratory analysis in California, Japan, China and France have used Oxygen-17 NMR, Raman Spectroscopy, and RJL bio-impedance tests to prove that Clustered Water® solutions are structured to maximize hydration and improve cell function.

Clustered Water™
Research and Development

Clustered Water™ has been found to be a specific form of water instrumental in key cellular functions. Research has shown that the lack of this specific form of water is responsible for cellular aging and cellular problems.

When we are young, our bodies are full of clustered water. As we grow older, our clustered water becomes physically bound to other molecular structures and becomes unable to move freely through the cell walls.

Our body contains approximately 50 trillion cells. The water that sustains them is called clustered water. Unlike tap water, rain or mineral water, Clustered Water™ has a particular characteristic which allows it to pass freely through cell walls, delivering oxygen, nutrients, protein chains, enzymes and it removes the toxic buildup that accumulates in the cell.

The efficiency and speed of Clustered Water™ is due to the design and shape of the water molecules and the design and shape of the cell itself. Small water clusters fit into and through the hexagonal channels in the cell membrane and inside the cell.
• Studies show that 2% loss of cellular water decreases energy levels by as much as 20%.
• Over 99% of all chemical reactions in the cell are facilitated by water.

History of Dr. Lee Lorenzen

Dr. Lee Lorenzen has an impressive academic background; he received his BA in Biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Lorenzen went to UCI School of Medicine, Research Associate in the Department of Pharmacology; did his graduate studies in Biology at Cal State Fullerton and finished up with Doctorate studies in Nutrition at Metropolitan Collegiate Institute, London, UK.

Along with these educational achievements, Lee also ventured into teaching before he entered into research and development. He is an active member of the American Preventive Medical Association and has been awarded 2 US Patents on Clustered Water™ technology (5,711,950 & 6,033,678).

Lee has written and narrated many video and audiotapes on nutrition and health care for the general public and he has lectured extensively on the life sciences around the world. He has published articles in the Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society, Life Sciences (London), Food Technology Japan, up-to-date Food Processing and La Vie Japan.

How Clustered Water™ Is Made

Clustered Water™ is designed for the human body.

Dr. Lorenzen uses his proprietary Clustered Water™ Template Induction Process (U.S. Patent No. 5711950) to produce Clustered Water™ in his laboratory in California, USA.

These clusters are folded around proteins and the complex is subjected to high frequency vibration through the use of laser and ceramic systems. The protein base is then extracted.

Clustered Water™ is a non-toxic solution that beneficially impacts the body’s entire systems by means of energy transference, through super hydration.

Monday, February 20, 2006

History of the President’s Day Holiday

The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency).

Washington, according to the calendar that has been used since at least the mid-18th century, was born on February 22, 1732. According to the old style calendar in use back then, however, he was born on February 11. At least in 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead.

By the early 19th century, Washington's Birthday had taken firm root in the American experience as a bona fide national holiday. Its traditions included Birth night Balls in various regions, speeches and receptions given by prominent public figures, and a lot of revelry in taverns throughout the land. Then along came Abraham Lincoln, another revered president and fellow February baby (born on the 12th of the month). The first formal observance of his birthday took place in 1865, the year after his assassination, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address. While Lincoln's Birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington's, it did become a legal holiday in several states.

In 1968, legislation (HR 15951) was enacted that affected several federal holidays. One of these was Washington's Birthday, the observation of which was shifted to the third Monday in February each year whether or not it fell on the 22nd. This act, which took effect in 1971, was designed to simplify the yearly calendar of holidays and give federal employees some standard three-day weekends in the process.

Apparently, while the holiday in February is still officially known as Washington's Birthday (at least according to the Office of Personnel Management), it has become popularly (and, perhaps in some cases at the state level, legally) known as "President's Day." This has made the third Monday in February a day for honoring both Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Numbers Tell A Story

Just finished reading FAST COMPANY March 2006 and read through several pages of analytical and statistical information. Following are excerpts that can be used when asking, “Did you know ... ?”

A Wal-Mart for Every American

In 1995, there was one for every 100,000 Americans
In 2000, one for every 90,000 Americans
In 2005, one for every 78,000 Americans
In 2010, there will be one for every 70,000 Americans

Boomers Are Aging

The number of households in age-restricted senior communities in 2003 was 1.67 million, but they don’t want to live with old people. The estimated decline in age-restricted community residents by 2025 is 50%.

Hot Drug: Caffeine

Worldwide consumption of Red Bull in 2004 was 1.9 billion cans, an annual growth rate of 31.5%.

Percentage of Population with Internet Access

Sweden 75.2%
United States 68.7%
Greenland 66.6%
Japan 60.9%
Latvia 35.1%
Seychelles 24.0%
Mexico 16.4%
Brazil 12.3%
China 7.9%
Bolivia 3.9%
India 3.6%

We’re Going Wireless ...

9.4% - Percentage of US subscribers in 2005 who used their wireless phone as their primary phone.

37% - Projected percentage in 2009.

Robots Really Are Taking Over The World

Population of Industrial Robots by 2008:

Japan 400,000
Europe 350,000
North America 160,000
Elsewhere 150,000

Americans are Burning More Oil

In 2004, 20.7 million barrels per day.
In 2006, 21.1 million barrels per day.

Gas-Electric Hybrid Cars

Percentage of Total U.S. Vehicle Sales:

In 2002 .23%
In 2005 1.25%
In 2008 3.23% (estimate)
In 2011 4.23% (estimate)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

“Pay For Performance” Business Model

Yesterday, via snail-mail, I received an Offering Brochure for UpSnap ... a new tech company that has joined the Mobile Search Revolution; that is, search via cell phones.

They presented the following information regarding SMS – the abbreviation for Short-Message Service or Text Messaging:

* There are now more mobile phone subscribers in the world (2.5 billion) than there are landline phone subscribers and that number is expected to double to 5 billin by 2009. That’s about 2.5 times the number of current Internet users worldwide.

* There are currently about 100 million cell phone users in the U.S.

* The cell phone is quickly becoming a primary means of communication, not only for voice, but also for digital services, email, digital photos, GPS navigation ... and advertising.

* It is estimated that worldwide over 350 billion text messages are exchanged across the world’s mobile network every single month.

* U.S. cell phone users spend $2 billion every year on directory assistance.

UpSnap’s Text-Based 411 Directory Assistance calls are FREE to consumers. Merchants pay only for performance, customers who call them for their products and services. Merchants don’t pay for “advertising”, they pay only for results – calls that lead to sales that generate revenues.

It’s a No Brainer

Step 1: Send a message to UpSnap on your cellphone.

Step 2: Enter what you are looking for (“pizza”, “bookstore”, etc.) and your ZIP code, area code or local airport code.

Step 3: Wait for the results and punch in A, B or C for the vendor location of your choice and get connected.

When you place an order, the merchant pays for the results – not the advertising.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Viking Laws

On a trip to the Land of the Vikings, I purchased a card with the following Viking Laws and feel it conveys some very good messages to live by.

Be Brave and Aggressive

* Be Direct
* Grab all opportunities
* Use varying methods of attack
* Be versatile and agile
* Attack one target at a time
* Don’t plan everything in detail
* Use top quality weapons

Be Prepared

* Keep weapons in good conditions
* Keep in shape
* Find good battle comrades
* Agree on important points
* Choose one chief

Be A Good Merchant

* Find out what the market needs
* Don’t promise what you can’t keep
* Don’t demand overpayment
* Arrange things so that you can return

Keep The Camp In Order

* Keep things tidy and organized
* Arrange enjoyable activities which strengthen the group
* Make sure everybody does useful work
* Consult all members of the group for advice

Thursday, February 16, 2006

An Introduction to Functional Water Beverages

An Introduction to
Functional Water Beverages

Whereas conventional water beverages attempt to make no substantial changes to the source water other than perhaps removing unwanted chemicals, minerals, biological contaminants, odors or tastes through selected water purification processes, Functional Bottled Water Beverages are quite different.

For at least two thousand years, water has been considered as the major facilitator of the development and sustenance of life on earth. Long regarded as the universal solvent, its molecular properties are unique and profound, yet water itself is rarely regarded as anything more than a benign, albeit necessary, adjunct to biological systems and human health.

For years water treatment specialists and a wide array of chemists and biologists have argued over what type of water was "cleanest" or "purest" for human and animal consumption as well as best for plant life.

These arguments are based on how much and what types of contaminants were being removed. What percentage of the dissolved solids were being removed? How about heavy metals? Were bacteria and other microbes being removed---and to what extent?

In other words, the issue in the past was one of water "PURITY" where the arguments, comparisons and controversies were all based on quantitative water quality measurements which could be resolved by a variety of laboratory test equipment which measured dissolved solids, bacteria content or volatile gasses from organic chemicals.

In Conventional Bottled Water Beverages, these attributes of purity and cleanliness are the very criteria that dominate the choice of source or process for a small format bottling operation.

However, recent developments and observations in both the scientific and industrial communities have attracted researchers and biotech firms to water PHYSICS and "functional" water beverages which possess very novel "altered" or "structured" water characteristics.

We address this business area of small format bottling because this is the direction in which we expect smart bottlers will proceed and where significant profits may be attainable because of the niche markets and specialty applications for the various types of successfully produced functional bottled water beverages.

One of the major categories of functional water-based beverages is the nutraceutical market where various types of fruit or herbal concentrates are added to water for nutrient value. At the present time, we will bypass this specific topic and concentrate instead on identifying a special portion of the functional water beverage market.

Creating "Functional", "Altered" or "Structured" Waters

Although this section may not provide a complete and thorough description of each of these "functional", "altered" or "structured" water technologies, it will provide enough information to begin understanding the basics of this rapidly evolving business area and identify which of the evolving Functional Water Beverage business areas may be good prospects for small format bottlers.

This area we refer to as "functional", "structured" or "altered" water beverages ironically remains an "unstructured" science with a wide variety of scientists, pseudo-scientists, wannabe scientists as well as various technology groups with their individual areas of research.

A definition of "altered", "functional", or "structured" water beverages might be as follows

"...any mechanical, electrical, optical or other process or combinations thereof which alters the physical or chemical characteristics of water, thereby creating a new form or species of water which when utilized by plants, animals or humans demonstrates measurable and repeatable benefits to chemical, enzymatic and general cellular functions".

Various technologists and scientists use terminology such as "clustered", "micro-clustered", "nano-clustered", "nano-clustered resonant water", "catalytically altered", "electrolyzed", "oxygenated" and other terms to describe the specific type or species of water which they are developing or producing and which they generally refer to as "functional", "altered" or "structured" water beverages.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


... that I received in an email from a friend and wanted to pass on to other friends.

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company.

(1) The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

(2) Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".

(3) When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

(4) Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

(5) Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.

Here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

*** We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

*** File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., was stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

*** But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

*** Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

*** By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., has been stolen:

1.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
2.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
3.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
4.) Trans Union : 1-800-680-7289

We pass along jokes on the Internet. We pass along just about everything. But if you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Birthday to My Niece Cybill ...

A True Valentine Girl

Today, Valentine’s Day, is my niece’s birthday. The family celebrated at dinner last night (a day early), due to the fact that her Grandmother (my Mother) found out that the restaurant Cybill picked was not planning on serving lobster on Valentine’s Day.

Following is one version of The History of Valentine’s Day.

The History of Valentine's Day

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?

The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -- which probably occurred around 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

Thanks to American Greetings.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Search Engine Traffic Soars

Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

People in the U.S. use the Internet for more everyday research than any other medium, a fact proven by the 55 percent year-on-year surge in online searches in December, according to market researcher Nielsen/NetRatings. And Google remained the most popular place for Americans to search cyberspace in December.

The number of online searches in the U.S. soared to nearly 5.1 billion searches in December from 3.3 billion a year earlier, despite just a slight uptick in the total number of Americans connecting to the Internet, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The number of Internet users in the U.S. rose merely 3 percent year-on-year in December to 207 million people.

Shift in Behavior

"The double-digit increase in online search activity marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Internet consumer behavior," says Ken Cassar, senior director of analytics at Nielsen/NetRatings. "Online search is the primary tool most people rely on to do everyday research," he says.

Google not only ranked first out of approximately 60 search engines, it also widened the gap between itself and number two Yahoo by grabbing 48.8 percent of all search traffic in December, or nearly 2.5 billion searches, up from 43.1 percent during the same time a year earlier.

Search activity on Yahoo fell slightly to 21.4 percent of the total, down from 21.7 percent in December 2004. MSN saw the steepest drop-off as its share of searches fell to 10.9 percent from 14 percent, Nielsen/NetRatings says.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The New World of Marketing:

Word-of-Mouth Campaigns Replace Traditional Tools

- (Wall Street Journal – February 7, 2006)

Today, people are overloaded with information and the tools of traditional marketing – print ads, catalogs, direct mail and television commercials – aren’t working. People are saying, “Don’t bother me with advertising. I’ll go talk to my friends.”

Twenty seven percent (27%) of all personal conversations include discussions of products or services. The new marketing builds on those relationships, by changing marketing campaigns into friendly, one-on-one encounters. Within an organization, the “friend” is called an evangelist and the tools of nontraditional marketing are Corporate Blogs, personalized e-mails or direct mail pieces about products you’ve said you were interested in (permission marketing) and personal or online conver- sations. What is new is the extension of targeted communications to huge databases of consumers who have indicated an interest in a product or service.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 646,000 people held jobs in advertising, marketing, promotions and public relations in 2004. Because the field is so new, there is no way to estimate how many of them use new marketing techniques.

The new world of marketing requires a different mentality than traditional marketing because it moves from a model of one-way communication to two.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Live Green, Go Yellow

- GM Ad

Cars. Trucks. SUVs. What if they could run on E85 ethanol, a renewable fuel derived from corn, made up of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline?

America could move towards energy independence with a homegrown, renewable fuel source that actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions while it boosts your engine performance. Sound good?

Gets even better at LiveGreenGoYellow.com. Can every car in America run on yellow? Not yet. But GM has already put over 1.5 million FlexFuel Vehicles on the American road. And we’re just getting started.

Winning The Innovation Challenge

- Microsoft Ad

Elected officials from both parties are joining forces to address one of the nation’s key long-term challenges: Winning the innovation race.

America’s future competitiveness depends on scientific and techno- logical innovation. Innovation requires a well-educated, highly skilled workforce. America needs to expand and improve education, particularly in math, science and engineering. Innovation requires long-term investment in research and development. We must encourage innovation by strengthening and modernizing how we protect intellectual property.

IAC Will Rename Ask Jeeves to Ask.com

- (Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2006)

Ask Jeeves will be renamed Ask.com starting February 27, 2006. The company plans to invest millions of dollars to make Ask the core of its 60 online and retail brands; including, Ticketmaster, LendingTree, Match.com, CitySearch, Gifts.com and the television shopping network HSN. IAC spun out Hotels.com and the online travel service Expedia last year into a separately traded unit.

Chief Executive Barry Diller said that more than 200 million people use IAC’s businesses. Mr. Diller said Ask may offer an alternative to advertisers who want to reach users of search engines other than Google and Yahoo. Ask has increased its share of U.S. search queries to 6.3%, since it introduced changes. At the end of 2005, IAC had $2.6 billion in cash and marketable securities and $1.3 billion in debt, which includes $362 million in loans held by LendingTree.

Verizon Wireless to Add to Multimedia Offerings to Cellphone Customers

- (Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2006)

Verizon Wireless, as part of deal with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. and News Corp.’s Fox, will allow certain Verizon Wireless customers to watch a variety of content on their cellphones. To get access to the new content, consumers must own a video-enabled phone and sign up for V-Cast, a $15-a-month service that is added to their regular Verizon Wireless subscription. The service is scheduled to become available in March 2006 and is the latest example of the push by wireless companies to integrate media content into their services.

So far, only about 1% of the nations’ roughly 200 million cellphone subscribers use mobile video services, but that number is expected to grow over the next few years.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The XX Olympic Winter Games

The Winter Games begin today in Turin, Italy.

17 Days / 15 Sports / 84 Medals

Facts about the Olympics you might not know

* Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman, founded the modern Olympics and literally left his heart in Olympia, Greece (as decreed by his will).

* In wartime, the Games were cancelled (1916, 1940 and 1944). Germany and its World War I allies were not invited to the 1920 and 1924 Games. Germany and Japan were not invited to the 1948 Games.

* Major boycotts occurred in 1956, 1976, 1980 and 1984. The Soviet Union didn’t attend until 1952.

* The 1972 Games in Munich and the 1996 Games in Atlanta were playgrounds for terrorists.

* The Olympics have managed to take mere athletes and coaches and turn them into masters of international intrique, while exalting the purity of athletic competition.

* When the Olympic flame is lit, the world watches.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Study Reveals Values of Americans

A new Harris Interactive study shows that overall, Americans show a unique resiliency. During a decade in which Americans witnessed school shootings, terrorism, war, and the collapse of business ethics, they still have higher levels of satisfaction with their personal lives, American society, and the world than they did in 1995.

The Values of Americans - A Study of Ethics and Character, highlights the values held by society. The study is a follow-up to the 1995 Harris Interactive research The Values of Men and Boys in America and provides a look at the values held by youth and adults, as well as a comparison of current American values with those of 10 years ago.

Values such as family, country, personal responsibility, faith, and ethics continue to be of primary importance to Americans young and old. However, the study does indicate a decline in some measures of basic ethical beliefs and citizenship since 1995.

Measures of ethical beliefs that have declined include:

• Only 15 percent of men today, versus 25 percent in 1995, strongly agree that being honest with everyone pays off in the kind of world in which we live.
• Fifty-five percent of men today think it's absolutely wrong under all circumstances to smoke marijuana, versus 67 percent in 1995.
• This is accompanied by a slight increase in the number who say they've smoked marijuana (40 percent today versus 36 percent in 1995).
Measures of citizenship that have declined since 1995 include:
• Fewer men today think it is absolutely essential to show concern for their neighbor's property (29 percent today versus 42 percent in 1995)
• Fewer men say that keeping physically fit (20 percent today versus 26 percent in 1995) and keeping one's property clean and tidy (23 percent today versus 29 percent in 1995) are absolutely essential for good citizenship.
The study also shows some positive trends among current and former Scouts. An increasing number of men who were Scouts as youth say that:
• Scouting had a positive effect on their family life at the time they were a Scout (70 percent today versus 64 percent in 1995)
• Scouting had a positive effect on their school life in later years (57 percent today versus 49 percent in 1995); and
• Scouting positively influenced their career development and advancement (50 percent today versus 43 percent in 1995).

"For 95 years Scouting has developed values, character, and leadership skills in youth. The values and skills they learn help Scouts to make the most ethical, not the easiest, choice," said Roy Williams, Chief Scout Executive, BSA. "While some of the issues youth face have changed in the past 10 years, Scouting remains a relevant and positive influence to millions of Americans through exciting and challenging programs that teach moral character to today's youth."

Serving nearly 4.1 million young people between 7 and 20 years of age with more than 300 councils throughout the United States and its territories, the Boy Scouts of America is the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Boy Scouts of America

BSA Celebrates 96 Years of Service

The Boy Scouts of America celebrates 96 years of service during Scouting Anniversary Week, February 5-11, 2006. In celebration, local Scouts across the nation will participate in special ceremonies and award presentations designed to highlight the service Scouts and Scouting volunteers provide in their communities.

"The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is the same today as it was 96 years ago," said Chief Scout Executive Roy L. Williams.

"So many things have changed in our world—Scouting has remained constant and true to its mission of serving youth and helping them learn to make better decisions throughout their lives," Williams said.

The Boy Scouts was founded in Great Britain in 1907 by British military hero Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Two years later, William D. Boyce, a Chicago publisher traveling in London, became lost in a fog. A young boy helped him find his way. When Boyce thanked the boy for his aid and offered him a tip, the boy explained that it was his duty as a Scout to help others, and he declined the tip.

Impressed with the boy's actions, Boyce met with Baden-Powell and laid the groundwork to bring Scouting to the United States. With the help of Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, and James E. West, the Boy Scouts of America was established on February 8, 1910.
Today, nearly 3 million youth enjoy the fun and excitement of Scouting. For more information about the Boy Scouts of America, please contact your local Boy Scout office.
Boy Scouts of America—Celebrating 96 Years of Serving Youth and Families

The Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) at a Glance

The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America — incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916 — is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

Chartered Organizations
Community-based organizations receive national charters to use the Scouting program as a part of their own youth work. These groups, which have goals compatible with those of the BSA, include religious, educational, civic, fraternal, business, and labor organizations; governmental bodies; corporations; professional associations; and citizens' groups.

Tiger Cubs is a year-round family- and home-centered program that encourages the ethical decision-making skills for first-grade (or 7-year-old) boys. These boys participate in the program with their adult partners. The program emphasizes shared leadership, learning about the community, and family understanding.

Cub Scouts is a year-round family- and home-centered program that develops ethical decision-making skills for boys in the second through fifth grade (or who are 8, 9, and 10 years old). Activities emphasize character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.

Webelos Scouts is a year-round family- and home-centered program that develops ethical decision-making skills for fourth- and fifth-grade (or 10-year-old) boys. Webelos Scouts participate in more advanced activities that begin to prepare them to become Boy Scouts.

Boy Scouting. A year-round program for boys 11 through 17 designed to achieve the aims of Scouting through a vigorous outdoor program and peer group leadership with the counsel of an adult Scoutmaster. (Boys also may become Boy Scouts if they have earned the Cub Scouting Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old.)

Varsity Scouting. An active, exciting, year-round program for young men 14 through 17 built around five program fields of emphasis: advancement, high adventure, personal development, service, and special programs and events.

Venturing. A year-round program for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age to provide positive experiences through exciting and meaningful youth-run activities that help them pursue their special interests, grow by teaching others, and develop leadership skills.

Volunteer Leaders
Volunteer adult leaders serve at all levels of Scouting in more than 300 local councils, 28 areas, and four regions, and nationally with volunteer executive boards and committees providing guidance.

Each autonomous local council is chartered by the BSA, which provides program and training aids along the guidelines established by the National Executive Board and the national charter from Congress.

National Activities

Cub Scouting is where it all begins. Ninety-five percent of all Boy Scouts participated in Cub Scouting at some time. Cub Scouting strengthens the family, encourages physical fitness, and teaches core values to live by through its program. A thrilling outdoor program starts in Cub Scouting with day camps, resident camps, council-organized camps, pack camping, and the fabulous make-believe themes of Cub World venues such as castles, frontier forts, pirate ships, and more.

Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers have many special activities available to them, such as camporees, summer camps, Scouting shows, and national jamborees.

The Order of the Arrow, Scouting's national honor society, recognizes those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. The order has local lodge, section, and national meetings. Scouts who have become Eagle Scouts, the highest advancement award in Scouting, may join the National Eagle Scout Association.

All Scout camps are inspected and accredited annually by teams of trained volunteers to ensure the health, safety, and quality of program for campers.

Scouting Anniversary celebrations, during February, include observance of the BSA's February 8 birthday, Scout Sabbath, and Scout Sunday. Unit activities feature blue and gold banquets, courts of honor, and open house meetings.

National High-Adventure Bases

The BSA has three national high-adventure areas, and all three are unique. The Northern Tier National High Adventure Program offers wilderness canoe expeditions and cold-weather camping; the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base offers aquatics programs in the Florida Keys; and Philmont Scout Ranch offers backpacking treks in the rugged high country of northern New Mexico. Volunteer leaders may attend the Philmont Training Center each summer for a weeklong training conference.


The Boy Scouts of America publishes two magazines: 94-year-old Boys' Life, produced monthly for 1.3 million subscribers in three demographic editions (LOW demographic edition goes to all Tiger Cubs and Cub Scout subscribers through age 8. MIDDLE demographic edition goes to all Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts 9 years and older and all adult Cub Scouting leaders who subscribe. HIGH demographic edition goes to all Boy Scout-age subscribers and all other subscribers); and 93-year-old Scouting, produced six times a year for all adults registered in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing. In addition, unit leaders and commissioners receive special program inserts in Scouting.

The BSA publishes handbooks for all phases of the Scouting program, more than 100 merit badge pamphlets for Boy Scouts, leader books, training pamphlets, program helps booklets for unit leaders, and other literature for use by youth members, adult leaders, and parents.

Financial Support

The National Council is supported largely through annual registration fees paid by all members, charter and service fees paid by local councils, an Annual Giving Campaign among national employees and selected volunteers, income from the sales of Boys' Life and Scouting magazines and Scouting equipment, bequests, and special gifts. Local councils are supported by communities through an annual Friends of Scouting campaign, the United Way, special events, foundation grants, investment income, bequests, endowment gifts, and special contributions.

On the unit level, chartered organizations that use the Scouting program provide meeting places and often furnish program materials and other facilities. Youth members help to pay their own way by paying dues to their pack, troop, team, ship, or crew treasuries, and through approved money-earning projects, they can earn additional income for their units.

Membership and Units

Membership since 1910 totals more than 110 million. As of December 31, 2004, membership was:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What Americans Think About Aging and Health

PARADE – February 5, 2006 – Page 15

PARADE and Research!America, the nonprofit organization that advocates for medical research, recently polled a cross-section of 1000 Americans on their attitudes about aging. Following are the concerns of Americans regarding aging and its effects on health.

Our Main Concern. More than a third of Americans (37%) said poor, declining health was their main concern about growing old. That was followed by financial concerns (23%).

Our Greatest Fear. More than twice as many Americans (62%) fear losing their mental capacity as they age as those who fear a diminished physical capacity (29%).

How Much of the Aging Process do we Control? The majority of Americans (84%) believe there are things they can do to control the aging process.

How Many of Us are Taking Action. A majority of Americans (83%) say they are taking action now to stay healthy as they age.

Monday, February 06, 2006

GM awards billions in tech contracts

General Motors awarded about half of $15 billion it plans to spend over the next 5 years on information technology contracts.

GM’s 10-year contract with EDS ends in June, so the automaker began a re-bidding process two years ago. EDS will continue to have the most business, although somewhat less than under the old contract.

Contracts went to Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Capgemini, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Wipro and Covisint.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology

• Implanting Microchips to link the Body and the Computer

The future is now for radio frequency ID chips.

Implanting a chip is a relatively simple procedure.

People are already using their cellphones as an extension of their communications ability.

The tiny silicone device, which for years have been safely implanted in pets and livestock to identify their owners, come with an encoded string of numbers. They are read by a scanner two to four inches away, much like a bar code except that the chips don’t need to be visible to be read.

Digital visionaries have long foreseen a future when people and computers merge.

Digital products people use every day are becoming more integral to the human body.

Bluetooth wireless technology enables jackets and sunglasses to double as electronic devices.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration gave approval in 2004 to a Florida company, Verichip, to implant RFID chips in people as a means to retrieve medical information. The information is not on the chip; it is in a computer database that hospitals gain access to by scanning patients who carry a chip beneath their skin. In the last 3 years, Verichip has implanted more than 2,000 people around the world and 60 in the United States. Its chips are a proprietary technology and cost about $200 each.

• RFID Rolls Into NASCAR Race

Goodyear will provide racing teams with tires that have RFID devices embedded into the sidewalls.

Aiming to help manage a huge inventory of leased tires, the program gives a green light to auto racing’s first deployment of radio-frequency identification semiconductor chips and antennas embedded in the rubber.

Goodyear was asked by NASCAR to assist them in trying to cut the amount of testing that teams had been doing on their own. “The way to do it is to lease the tires so the tires are returned at the end of the race,” said a Goodyear spokeswoman.

Race teams used to buy tires and test them before the race. Now, NASCAR will test the tires and provide them to the teams, which will return them after the race for a partial rebate. RFID will assist in the implementation of NASCAR’s new controlled testing procedures.

The RFID scanning equipment will quickly read the information embedded in the sidewall of the tire. The tire identification is the first piece of data that will be available through the computer chip.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Zen of Innovation

Innovation: A hard-to-quantify, Zen-like force, an unexpected flash of lateral thinking, when we see what everyone else has been missing. And we know it can take an ‘Ocean of Sweat’ to bring it to life.

Seven key megatrends in technology today:

• Enabling Components – the devices that drive the systems we use.

• The Need for Speed – pushing systems and networks into the giga-hertz era.

• Mobility – the wireless nets and devices we take on the road.

• Digital Media – the era of digital music, movies, radio and TV.

• Beyond the Box – pioneering the software that fuels our systems.

• Pathfinders – defining what lies beyond the horizon.

• The Digital Frontier – digital technology that enables new medical, automotive and industrial applications.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why So Stupid?

How the Human Race has Never Really Learned to Think

By: Edward De Bono

This book was totally disjointed, jumping around continuously. If this is thinking, I’m happy with my way, thank you.

Following are ‘The Good Points’:

You can analyze the past but you have to design the future.

Humour is by far the most significant behavior of the human brain. Humor tells us more about how the brain works than any other human activity.

The Gang of Three was Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The Renaissance rep-introduced into Europe and Western Civilization, the thinking of the Greek Gang of Three. This then became the standard ‘software’ of Western thinking and has remained so to this day.

The human brain is designed to form standard patterns for dealing with a stable world. The Gang of Three thinking emphasizes and enhances this natural behavior of the brain.

One day a fellow set his computer to figure out all the different ways of getting dressed with eleven pieces of clothing. The computer took forty hours of continuous processing. The total combinations with eleven pieces of clothing are 39,916,800 ways of getting dressed.

The brain is a ‘Self-Organizing’ Information System. This means that incoming information organizes itself into patterns, which form in our brain and determine our future perceptions.

To challenge our traditional concept of ‘truth’ does not mean that one is therefore in favour of ‘untruth’.

Perception is undoubtedly the biggest source of false truth. The trouble is that many different perceptions may all be equally right, valid or true. The danger is that those who hold one perception as true are reluctant to accept the possible truth of other perceptions.

‘Description Truth’ has always been extremely dangerous as a form of perceptual truth. There is no limit to the variety of descriptions and all of them are ‘true’ in the sense that they are valid.

There is a very big difference between description and action. Unfortunately, most of our attention to thinking has been in the form of description, analysis, reflection and philosophical examination. None of these approaches provide simple, practical and effective operational tools for thinking.

The big difference between ‘Parallel Thinking’ and ‘Adversarial Thinking’ (argument) is that at any moment every one is thinking parallel.

There is no mystery at all about ‘Idea Creativity’, which can be produced deliberately by using methods based on the behavior of a self-organizing information system that makes asymmetric patterns. There is close system relationship between humor and lateral thinking.

Every valuable creative idea will always be logical in hindsight. This is why we have never paid serious attention to creativity.

If 95% of an idea is valid but 5% is more doubtful, we focus on that 5%. If we did so in order to improve the idea by attention to that weak 5%, then that would be valuable. We do not do this. We focus on the 5% to suggest that if this 5% is weak then the whole idea is worthless.

We need simple ways of dealing with complexity rather than complex ways of dealing with simplicity.

‘Hodics’ is the study of paths and patterns. A challenge to the concept of cause and effect: because B follows A does not mean that A has caused B.

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